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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

South Shore Irish Festival

Join me for two days of all things Irish at the Marshfield Fair Grounds.

A beautiful location filled with song and laughter? Count me in! Celebrate Irish heritage with song, drink, laughter, and craic at the South Shore Irish Festival. (Don't know what craic is? Well, you have to come and see for yourself!) I've been invited to sign "The Troubles" and will certainly have copies of "The Charity" on hand for the uninitiated!

I'll be joining Ellen Alden, author of "Faithfully Yours," and Dick Flavin, poet laureate of the Boston Red Sox and author of "Red Sox Rhymes."

It's wonderful to be invited as a featured author for any event, but to be included in these annual Irish heritage festival is so exciting! I know my books raise a few eyebrows in certain circles. I can see folks wondering what this American lass is doing writing about Northern Ireland's troubles. I've had my politics tested and heard incredible stories of Irish oppression directly from those who have experienced it. I'm looking forward to signing books, chatting with readers, and sharing some craic.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

When the Dead Need A Hand

Photo Credit Matt Brown

He has come to me sometimes. At night. In my dreams. We talk.

Well, I talk and he looks at me. Bewildered.

In my dreams we are in the middle of a family gathering. I can hear my parents and siblings talking and laughing in the kitchen. Ice rattles against cold plastic in the freezer then chinks into glasses. Cabinets open and shut as a meal is prepared.

In these dreams, I'm in the living room with my three children and their cousins. Everyone is years younger. My nephew-now-father-of-his-own is in these dreams, sprouting chin hairs with skin shiny from the surge of teenager hormones. My niece is placing my now eighteen-year-old daughter on her lap to build a tower of blocks. Everyone is there, in that place so many years ago where nothing could touch us.

He's there too. Always standing off a little to the side. Laughing at something said. He's barely a teen. His wild, unruly hair is busy doing its wild and unruly thing. He's whole. Happy. He says something, tries to enter the conversation, but no one hears him.

Except me.

No one sees him.

Except me.

Everyone is years away from colleges to be decided upon or from the knowledge that marriages will fall apart or or that a car accident will take one of them weeks before a twenty-seventh birthday.

"You're gone now. I'm sorry, but you're not supposed to be here." I tell him this because I can see he doesn't know. 

In each dream I say the same thing to him. In each dream, he looks at me. Bewildered.

The first few dreams like this I awoke, sobbing with grief made fresh. He was so confused. He wasn't ready to be not heard or seen. "You're gone now. They can't see you." Then, I mustered all the strength I could from the love I have for him and said, "You're dead." 

I know a part of me needed to say those words so I could believe it, too.

Last night, in the middle of a living room strewn with plastic toys, shredded gift wrap, kids, and dogs, I stood with him in the hallway and said those words again.

This time, something flickered behind his too-young eyes. 

He was beginning to understand.

I was beginning to question.

Is there life after death? When someone so alive, so vital, and filled with all of the good things life has to offer and then is gone in a split second, what happens next?

I don't know, but I don't feel as if these were mere dreams, some random firing of my brain cells at night.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Feather Boas and Cigarette Holders

I know you're thinking being an author is glamorous and an author event is time to break out the feather boas and cigarette holders.

Okay. I'm gonna let you think that.

I'm also going to let you think that an "author event" is a glittery cocktail party populated with intellectuals, celebrities, bon vivants, and socialites who trade uncanny insights mixed with scintillating patter. 

Yup. Dead on. The secret is out.

Standing for hours in broiling sun next to malodorous people wearing mismatched shoes with food in their teeth and listening to diatribes with no particular point never happens. Not once. Ever.

Perfectly manicured nails never ever get broken setting up a vendor tent.

Backs and legs remain rested and never become achy or strained from lugging cases of books across parking lots the size of a football field...or two.

Each day is a rousing success.

Books are always clutched lovingly to the hearts of readers and are never ever carelessly dropped in dirt or smudged with greasy fingers rendering them unsaleable. 

Library halls and auditoriums are filled to standing room only for author presentations and interviews.

People are never rude or dismissive.

Events are well attended because publishers have unlimited budgets for marketing collateral and newspaper ads. Book publicists always under-promise, over-deliver on clever, attention getting and crowd gathering promotions. In fact, publicists give away their time and effort for free. After all, good ideas are a dime a dozen and publicists, like authors, love what they do so much they don't have to get paid.

Spouses always listen to every word a reader or an author utters. Why? Each observation and story told is fresh and new and interest never has to be feigned when someone says, "Here's an idea for a book you should (or I want to) write."

You don't have to love writing or the process of "all things book." In fact, the life of an author is so wonderful and easy, you don't even have to like those things to participate.

Boo yeah, being an author is glorious, exciting, and effortless. 


In the market for a bridge? There's one I'd like to sell you.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016


I've told you about K before. Today I'm going to tell you a secret.

K and I work together to help her learn to ride a horse. First, we were just two women who happened to be paired together, horse handler and client. K had been riding on Wednesday mornings for a number of years before I came along. Through that time, she had many volunteers working beside her. Wednesdays happened to be the time I had free. Mornings worked best. Scheduling fate threw us together.

Now? Don't you dare try to separate us.

I've featured authors, musicians, playwrights, and more in my "Strong Woman" series. Each guest has written about what that phrase means to her or a person who personifies that phrase. It's my turn to tell you about K.
Pocahontas by Disney

To many, the label of "strong woman" conjures an image of a scantily clad warrior standing at the edge of a cliff, spear in hand, with hair billowing in the wind. Somehow, the term means a larger-than-life powerhouse that parts the seas of humanity to bend us to her will or a force of nature who will not be cowed by convention.

K owns the "strong woman" mother lode. She lives a full and simple life with a strength and dignity we can only imagine. 

So, the secret? Her determination to accomplish things we take for granted is intimidating. This gal is fierce

Behind that thousand watt smile is a spine of stainless steel. Tenacity and determination in their fullest forms wilt when applied to her. She is gonna get it done!

Cards dealt at birth dictated a life of need and support. Don't think, even for a second, that this means a life for K of dependence or loss.

She works and lives independently, belongs to a swim club, is an award winning equestrian (as pictured above), and more. Oh, and she is surrounded by friends. She is a human tractor beam of positive energy.

And she has determined that she wants to write stories. I've posted one already. Next week, I'll post more.